HandPans Magazine - The PANArt Hang, HandPan, and Hank Drum Explored

Welcome to HandPans Magazine. A place where like you, we're very much interested in all things Hang, Hank Drum, and HandPan related. Our mission, if we have one other than documenting our own interest in, and love for these beautiful instruments, is to try and offer useful information regarding these singing steel 'sound sculptures', right here on site. While at the same time pointing you towards more in-depth resources, instrument makers, artists, the latest news, and anything else that 'tickles us' too, elsewhere on the web.
We may not always get it right. But we can promise you this, we'll never shout at you for accidentally, or mistakenly calling the PANArt Hang a 'Hang Drum' (a big 'no-no' in certain circles), and that you'll always be welcome on this site, whether you're 'lucky' enough to be deemed to 'resonate', with PANArt's 'Felix Rohner and Sabina Schärer' (and will possibly one day get to own, or already own a Hang), or not (because there's plenty of other great options out there for you too).

The Moods and Emotions of Different Musical Keys

HandPan tuned to different musical keys can vary in flavour considerably.  But how do you put the differing moods and emotions conjured up by the various musical keys into words(?). The following descriptions penned by Christian Schubart, in his work, 'Ideen zu einer Aesthetik der Tonkunst' ('Ideas for a Aesthetics of Music'), back in 1806 - are just one of many attempts to do just that...

C majorCompletely pure. Its character is: innocence, simplicity, naïvety, children's talk.
[Video of a Spacedrum in C major: HERE]

C minor Declaration of love and at the same time the lament of unhappy love. All languishing, longing, sighing of the love-sick soul lies in this key.
[Video of a Live-Metart HandPan in C minor: HERE]

Db major - A leering key, degenerating into grief and rapture. It cannot laugh, but it can smile; it cannot howl, but it can at least grimace its crying.--Consequently only unusual characters and feelings can be brought out in this key.

D major The key of triumph, of Hallejuahs, of war-cries, of victory-rejoicing. Thus, the inviting symphonies, the marches, holiday songs and heaven-rejoicing choruses are set in this key.
[Video of a Saraz HandPan in D major: HERE]

D minor Melancholy womanliness, the spleen and humours brood.
[Video of an Innersound HandPan in D minor: HERE]

D# minor - Feelings of the anxiety of the soul's deepest distress, of brooding despair, of blackest depresssion, of the most gloomy condition of the soul. Every fear, every hesitation of the shuddering heart, breathes out of horrible D# minor. If ghosts could speak, their speech would approximate this key.

Eb major - The key of love, of devotion, of intimate conversation with God.
[Video of a Gaia HandPan in Eb major: HERE]

E major Noisy shouts of joy, laughing pleasure and not yet complete, full delight lies in E Major.
[Video of a Saraz HandPan in E major: HERE]

F major Complaisance & calm.
[Video of a Bali Steel Pan in F major: HERE]

F minor Deep depression, funereal lament, groans of misery and longing for the grave.
[Video of a Live-Metalart in F minor: HERE]

F# major - Triumph over difficulty, free sigh of relief utered when hurdles are surmounted; echo of a soul which has fiercely struggled and finally conquered lies in all uses of this key.

F# minor - A gloomy key: it tugs at passion as a dog biting a dress. Resentment and discontent are its language.
[Video of a Saraz HandPan in F# major: HERE]

G major Everything rustic, idyllic and lyrical, every calm and satisfied passion, every tender gratitude for true friendship and faithful love,--in a word every gentle and peaceful emotion of the heart is correctly expressed by this key.
[Video of a Sonobe HandPan in G major: HERE]

G minor - Discontent, uneasiness, worry about a failed scheme; bad-tempered gnashing of teeth; in a word: resentment and dislike.
[Video of a Saraz HandPan in G minor: HERE]

Ab major - Key of the grave. Death, grave, putrefaction, judgment, eternity lie in its radius.

Ab minor - Grumbler, heart squeezed until it suffocates; wailing lament, difficult struggle; in a word, the color of this key is everything struggling with difficulty.

A major This key includes declarations of innocent love, satisfaction with one's state of affairs; hope of seeing one's beloved again when parting; youthful cheerfulness and trust in God.
[Video of a Saraz HandPan in A major: HERE]

A minor - Pious womanliness and tenderness of character.
[Video of a Spacedrum in A minor: HERE]

Bb major - Cheerful love, clear conscience, hope aspiration for a better world.

Bb minor - A quaint creature, often dressed in the garment of night. It is somewhat surly and very seldom takes on a pleasant countenance. Mocking God and the world; discontented with itself and with everything; preparation for suicide sounds in this key.

B major Strongly coloured, announcing wild passions, composed from the most glaring coulors. Anger, rage, jealousy, fury, despair and every burden of the heart lies in its sphere.

B minor This is as it were the key of patience, of calm awaiting ones's fate and of submission to divine dispensation.

(!) You can find more information on the characteristics of musical keys: HERE

Heat Treatments and HandPan Colouration

You may have noticed that while HandPan do come in various different colours, the most common colouration for a HandPan is a blueish / greyish hue - and there is reason for this.  Most (if not all) HandPan undergo heat treatments as part of their creation process, and it is these heat treatments that (unless other means are used to artificially colour the instrument) are responsible for the colour of the HandPan.  

The colouration itself is primarily a side-effect of the heat treatments upon the steel from which the HandPan is formed, with the heat treatments being used to modify the strength of the raw steel, by exposing it to specific temperatures, in a prescribed manner.  And the colour is formed from an oxide-layer that forms upon the steel during the heating process.

As mentioned before a blueish hue is among the most common to HandPan, and we can see from the chart (right) that this occurs at around 575°F / 302°C.  An interesting example of different temperatures used in these heat treatments affecting the final colouration of HandPan can be seen in the work of Pantheon Steel.  Earlier generation Halo all exhibited a strong blue colouration, while more recent examples (at time of posting) display a more golden-brown to purple finish - showing that the temperature of the heat treatments used in the creation of more recent Halo, are somewhat lower.

You can watch a video from Live-MetalArt demonstrating heat treatments upon a HandPan below...



While the following video provides a great introduction into the purposes of heat treating steel, for those wishing to understand the process more fully...

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